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LUXURY HOTEL INSIDER
 
FSA LogoThe Luxury Hotel Insider: Exclusive luxury hotel deals, features and special rates from the luxury hotel experts at Five Star Alliance. 
 
Named one of Tripbase's Best Luxury Travel Blogs for 2011, below are Five Star Alliance's newest articles featuring exclusive information on luxury hotels worldwide including special offers and deals at the world's best hotels.

Buzzworthy: Sun International’s Palace at Port Ghalib, Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Sun International, Palace at Port GhalibBilled as the premier resort destination on Egypt's Red Sea coast, the new Port Ghalib development, just 2.5 hours from the Valley of the Kings, is home to Sun International's 5-star citadel of indulgence. The Palace at Port Ghalib has made quite the stir since its debut last November 2007. Surrounded by fountains, terraced gardens and a kilometer-long swimming lagoon (the second largest saltwater lagoon ever made!), The Palace is truly spectacular. Each of the 309 premier rooms has butler service and a private balcony and terrace overlooking the Red Sea. For the ultimate indulgence, the 13 Royal Suites pamper guests with spa-like bathrooms and elegant surroundings (intricate architectural details and luxurious furnishings). In addition to the Palace, there are two other hotels on-site at Port Ghalib: the Sahara Sun Oasis and the Sahara Sun Sands. From here, try your hand at any number of activities-- from scuba diving and fishing to jeep treks and camel rides.


Ubud Hanging Gardens: Tropical Paradise in Bali


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Ubud Hanging GardensThe ultimate chill-out spot can be found not far from Bali's cultural capital of Ubud at a luxury resort like no other. Ubud Hanging Gardens, like its name suggests, clings to the steep slopes over the Ayung River gorge and offers sweeping views. Perched over the rice terraces, this gravity-defying hotel has 38 luxury villas surrounded by verdant gardens. Conceived by the landscape architect William Warren together with John Pettigrew, the gardens are spectacular; exotic trees and flowers include cocoa, coffee, durian, bamboo, flame trees and orchids. Each Balinese-style villa has its own private terrace and heated infinity plunge pool. Ubud Hanging Gardens features massages and yoga classes at the Ayung spa, excellent food-with-a-view at the restaurants, and a gorgeous pool with a unique design emphasizing the natural curves of the hillside. The real star of the show? The resort's own private funicular (pictured), built into the hillside, which carries guests from one level of the resort to another.

Ubud Hanging Gardens

Until April 30, 2008, take advantage of an exciting special offer at Ubud Hanging Gardens. When you stay for 5 nights, you'll only pay for 4 of them! Book any villa or suite and stay for a minimum of five consecutive nights.

P.S. Ubud Hanging Gardens is the ideal honeymoon escape, and the resort can tailor your activities, excursions, fine dining, etc. to fit your individual needs.


96 Hour Sale: $96 Rates with Rock Resorts


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Rock ResortsThe big sale is back. Stay at a luxurious RockResort from just $96 per night! From snug mountain hideaways in the Rockies to a blissful beachfront retreat in the Caribbean, Rock Resorts has some dazzling destinations: The Pines Lodge in Beaver Creek, Aspen's Hotel Jerome, Keystone Lodge and Spa, The Lodge at Vail, La Posada de Santa Fe, and The Landings St. Lucia in the West Indies. Even the swanky new Arrabelle at Vail Square is going for just $136 per night. To take advantage of this exclusive offer, book your stay before Sunday, March 16, 2008, at 11:59 p.m. MDT. This offer is available for travel Sunday through Thursday nights, April 13, 2008 through November 13, 2008. Online bookings only. All bookings must be prepaid and are nonrefundable.


Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa: The Best of Borneo


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort, Sunset BarSet on a peninsula surrounded by the waters of the South China Sea, the Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort is a secluded tropical retreat just minutes from the center of Kota Kinabalu. Picture it: inviting beaches, views of sparkling coral islands, incredible natural wonders and local culture on the island of Borneo in the eastern part of Malaysia. Sabah-- the Malaysian state perched on the northern tip of the island of Borneo-- is known for its scenic beauty and natural heritage including such treasures as the Rafflesia (the largest flower in the world), Asian elephant, proboscis monkey, and of course the famous Orang Utan. Just a 2 1/2 hour flight from Singapore, Hong Kong, and Kuala Lumpur, Shangri-La's luxury resort offers 492 recently renovated rooms and suites, seven restaurants and bars, and a wealth of recreational opportunities for families and leisure travelers. Since December 2007, the resort is also home to CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La, which boasts 5 individual Island Villas, 3 Couples' Villas and an open Yoga Pavilion-- all located on Pulau Bayu, the resort's private island.

Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort and SpaDon't miss a spectacular evening at the Sunset Bar, before heading out for a night at Blue Note, the buzzing bar featuring nightly music and generous cocktails. A hot new line-up of well-known international DJs will appear for "Generation Y" every Saturday in March. This is quite the scene- created by DJs renowned the world over for their trendsetting talent.


Tour the Don CeSar Beach Resort in St. Petersburg Beach, Florida


By: Courtney W. May

Don CeSar Beach ResortAnyone who has ever read The Informed Traveler in the past, knows what a big fan I am of the Don CeSar Beach Resort in St. Pete Beach, Florida. Located on the Gulf of Mexico Beach, the hotel is wonderful for singles, couples, and families - which is a hard endorsement to get. Click on the link below to get a pop-up window with video, pictures, and tours of the Don CeSar Beach Resort. You can check out the beach, restaurants, pool area, and a bunch of rooms through this link ...


Newsworthy: One and Only Palmilla, Cabo, Mexico, Begins Enhancement in May 2008


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

One and Only PalmillaThe sexy "Jewel of Baja"-- easily one of the best hotels in the world-- will temporarily adjust its room count from 172 to 122 rooms starting in May 2008. Once the favorite hideaway for the likes of Hemingway and Harlow, this elegant, ocean-facing oasis, the One & Only Palmilla, will continue to provide signature special touches which are the hallmark of One & Only hotels. But during this enhancement period, certain areas of the resort will be closed including the Vista Pool (adults-only pool), Breeze Restaurant, and C Restaurant breakfast service. All other areas are fully operational.


Spring Break Deals in the Caribbean in April


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Cap JulucaThe New York Times has the scoop on some thrilling hotel deals in April. Because Easter falls early this year, spring break is shorter than usual and most travelers-- especially those whose spring break plans are determined by school holidays-- have planned their holiday for the month of March. Rates for hotels and flights may be through the roof in March, but April is incredibly cheap. Normally peak season, April is proving to be a boon for travelers who have a little flexibility with their travel plans. Luxury resorts with inventory on their hands have slashed their rates as the shoulder season has been moved up by a month. Case in point: the exclusive Caneel Bay resort on the Caribbean island of St. John has beachfront rates as low as $675 in April (as opposed to $975 in March). Jumby Bay on Antigua has also cut their rates-- by 25 percent starting April 1. Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos Islands is actually offering a $200 resort credit. And Anguilla's gorgeous Cap Juluca resort-- usually booked solid, as the NYT points out-- actually has availability in April.


Go Next: Mystique, Santorini, Greece


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

MystiqueLuxury seekers looking for an unparalleled experience in the Greek Isles will swoon over Mystique. Built on Oia's famous cliffs overlooking the dazzling blue Aegean sea and volcano, Mystique is a member of Starwood's Luxury Collection. The resort offers 18 stylish rooms and villas handcrafted from wood, local stone, and glass. Relax in a sun bed by the outdoor infinity-edge pool surrounded by some of the world's most beautiful scenery. Take off on mountain bikes to explore Oia at your own pace, then enjoy a massage in the privacy of your own suite. Sip a sunset cocktail or Secret wine cave, then sup at the Charisma gourmet restaurant-- the best kind of al fresco dining experience with panoramic views over the sea. Mystique is located only 18 kilometers from Santorini airport and 20 kilometers from Athinios Port.


Last Minute Getaway to Belize at Cayo Espanto, Private Island Resort


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Cayo Espanto, BelizeDesperate for some sun? Steal away to the private island of Cayo Espanto, located three miles offshore from San Pedro in the calm Caribbean waters of Belize. This private piece of paradise, a favorite retreat for the discriminating few, is offering serious savings-- up to 57 percent off-- until March 15, 2008. Usually priced from $1,895 to $2,295 per night, the villas (3 of the island's 6) are going for $995 per couple. This includes a personal butler and all your meals, drinks, and transfers, so this is a real deal. Three-night minimum stay required.

Via Washington Post


E-Scape to South Africa with Twelve Apostles Hotel and Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Retreat


By: Mary Winston Nicklin

Twelve Apostles Hotel and SpaNow is the time to get a dose of some African sunshine. The award-winning Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa, Cape Town's finest, has partnered with the legendary Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve to create the perfect South African adventure of a lifetime. Enjoy the gorgeous sea-scape of Cape Town, the wine-scapes of the Bouchard Finlayson vineyard, and the remote land-scapes surrounding the luxurious wilderness retreat of Bushmans Kloof. The five-star journey begins at the very tip of South Africa with three nights of indulgence at The Twelve Apostles. In addition to the lavish accommodations and renowned service, you'll experience a special chef's tasting Fynbos menu at Azure Restaurant, a specialized spa treatment using indigenous healing aromatherapy, a trip to the top of Cape Town's famed Table Mountain, a visit to District 6, one of the most famous segregated areas under apartheid and now a museum, and a visit to a local arts and crafts village market managed by underprivileged women.

Before heading to the magical wilderness area at Bushmans Kloof, you'll take a day-trip by chauffeur-driven car to the Bouchard Finlayson Vineyard for a tour and tasting of the complete range of wines. When you stop for lunch at one of the town's best seafood restaurants, you'll enjoy a bottle of Bouchard Finlayson white wine.

Next stop: the luxurious eco-resort at Bushmans Kloof, a member of Relais & Chateaux, situated 270 kilometers from Cape Town in an extraordinary Natural Heritage Site. Surrounded by the grandeur of this dramatic landscape, you'll enjoy 3 nights in a deluxe room, 4 meals a day, including High Tea, dinner in a unique location each night (even outdoors under the stars in a natural sandstone amphitheater), early morning Rock Art excursions, evening nature drive with drinks and snacks at sundown, and 1 specialized spa treatment per person. Also includes all lodge activities, like canoeing and archery. The E-Scape package is valid until December 19, 2008.